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You don't coerce or injure others. Why can politicians do it?

New Mental Lever for you – What is a libertarian?

Our short but complete answer to an often asked question

Jim Babka, coming to Orlando, Fort Myers, and Tampa, November 4, 5, and 6. The title of his talk, “How one voluntaryist can make Florida a libertarian place.”  Check out our blog for details, and share this news with Florida libertarians you know.

Our Mental Levers are mini-articles about specific libertarian ideas. We aim to provide a unique resource — a single destination where people can get short but informative briefings about key libertarian concepts. You can…

  • Link to these Mental Levers during Internet discussions
  • Share them on social networking sites

Maximum information. Minimum words. That’s our standard. Here’s the latest Mental Lever…

What is a libertarian? Retweet
By Jim Babka & Perry Willis

Libertarians vary. They differ on…

  • why they’re libertarians.
  • how fast change should be made or how far it should go.
  • what will achieve those changes.

But virtually all libertarians agree that the focus should be on REDUCING (even to zero) the level of initiated violence that is legally and socially permissible.

When presented with a social or societal problem, the libertarian’s FIRST and primary question is

Will the proposed solution involve threats or the initiation of force, or will it rely on persuasion and perhaps even reduce the present level of initiated violence?

This is because libertarians, more than any other political philosophy, are concerned about the means that are used to achieve an end.

The libertarian has a Mental Lever, in mind, that tells him or her…

  • it’s wrong to initiate force to achieve social goals; persuasion and voluntary cooperation are better.
  • acts of coercion are very likely to cause more harm than good.
  • threats and actual, initiated violence violate the conscience and happiness of individuals.

All of this thinking is packed into the Golden Rule concept known as the Zero Aggression Principle. Libertarians use an empathetic approach. Thus it’s no surprise that…

Libertarians can share your social concerns! Libertarians include pornographers and pastors, Wiccans, Christians, and atheists, feminists or pro-lifers, environmentalists or corporate titans. They can be intensely concerned about health care, education, homelessness, terrorism, and violence on the streets.

In other words, while the the libertarian is critical of statist programs — because these schemes initiate force — he or she can and often does agree, that there is indeed a social problem. And problems need solutions!

A libertarian will often be ready to join you in creating those solutions. But the libertarian will be just as concerned about the means you propose to use.

The libertarian will want to take direct, peaceful, voluntary action to solve the problem. They will not want to wait while you lobby Congress. It’s both inefficient and rude to pass a law compelling submission to one master plan. To enlist libertarian support, you’ll need a more empathetic, cooperative solution, that still leaves room for other people to try their preferred solutions.

If you like this article, please share it on Facebook, Google+, and other social networking sites. Putting new ideas in new minds is your best way to improve the world.

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By: Jim Babka

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